From Ariadne and assassins to ghosts and goblins, a look back at Knightmare's various hurry-ups.
We weren't sure exactly which festival was next so we thought we'd check the shops. This didn't clear things up. We've therefore randomly chosen Hallowe'en as the inspiration for a new list article.
As you'll recall, Knightmare could be quite scary. After all, it had a name to live up to. It also had a dungeon realm filled with enough adventure for several quests per series, but only if each quest didn't go on too long.
To keep dungeoneers from dawdling, Knightmare deployed an array of what the production team called 'hurry-ups'. In Alan Boyd's words, these were 'the various monsters or mechanisms that force a team to move more quickly in order to either exit a room or make a decision more quickly'. Some were more effective than others in scaring slow teams into action; some were highly effective in scaring watchers.
We've picked out 13 of Knightmare's hurry-ups. As further evidence of how great Series 3 (1989) was, most of them are from that year.
1. Life Force (all series)
One of the hurry-ups that stemmed from the dungeon master: Treguard would try to speed up slow decision-making by telling teams they were wasting life force. It was us watchers who got the visual experience: the life force clock, added in post-production, with (in its classic Series 1-5 form) flaking skin, cracking bone and rolling eyeballs. Sweet dreams.
2. Bomb rooms (Series 1-3)
"We'd usually chuck them into a bomb room to scare them witless and sharpen them up," creator/producer Tim Child once admitted. Even so, some teams seemed intent on taking in the scenery until the fuse ignited.
3. Army of the Dead (Series 1)
Treguard warned various teams to "exit with haste" to avoid this unseen military force. We would hear the sound of their marching... or was it a cameraman eating crisps? One was a less ominous prospect than the other.
4. Cavernwights (Series 1-3)
They may not have looked deadly but they sounded it: former humans who hunted current humans by scent.
5. Automatum (Series 2)
Heralded by clockwork whirring offscreen, Edmund Dehn's "mindless mechanical warrior" was no respecter of dungeoneers' personal space. While the Automatum never caught a dungeoneer, it did doom Jamie (Series 2 Team 9) by driving him out the room before he'd collected all the pieces of a crucial spell.
Without that spell, Jamie fell victim to...
6. Ariadne (Series 2-6, Geek Week 2013)
If you vividly remember Knightmare's Queen of the Arachnids and have grown up without arachnophobia, consider it a minor miracle. She took her time, had her own entrance music and caught her prey more than once.
7. Giant hand (Series 2, Series 6)
Mogdred was the first to pay a scaled-up tribute to Thing from The Addams Family. Lord Fear emulated him a few years later.
8. Goblins (Series 3-8)
We can't forget the goblins. No really, we can't forget them. That hunting horn of theirs is blasted into our memories. It should be marketed as an audio laxative.
For six series they scurried through all three levels in squads of up to six. Sometimes they were unsupervised, other times they were accompanied by an Opposition henchman. Occasionally a hobgoblin would tag along, which was akin to velociraptors teaming up with a T-Rex.
We've since learned that one of the goblins was played by a lady called Janet Lock. She made a surprise appearance at our convention in 2014, stepping back into the studios where she'd hurried up so many dungeoneers.
9. Floating foes (Series 3-7)
Known generally as hauntings, they ranged from floating swords and axes in Series 3-4 to stormgeists and pookas in Series 6-7. The classic hauntings were the floating skulls of Series 3. Luminous, eerie and determined, they could appear out of nowhere and were known to hound dungeoneers right to the exit if they had to. They didn't always have to: Series 3 Team 5 guided dungeoneer James off a ledge in their haste to avoid two skulls.
The occasional references to these skulls as previous adventurers who'd died violently made them even less appealing company. All in all, they could be relied on to make a tense situation even tenser.
10. "Hurry, Ross, hurry!" (Series 3)
As Series 3 Team 6 proceeded on their quest to rescue Mellisandre the maid, her voice was heard at various moments, desperately urging dungeoneer Ross to hurry. Spurred on, the team reached Level 3 but didn't complete their quest. We saw Mellisandre two quests later, cheerfully feeding a giant maggot named Rodney. Knightmare wasn't always scary.
Between maggot feeding times, Melly served as Knightmare's friendliest hurry-up, appearing ahead of dungeoneers and waving at them.
11. Moving wall (Series 3)
One of the variants of the Great Corridor of the Catacomb. With a foreboding scrape, the rear wall would come further and further in, threatening to block the exits and crush the dungeoneer.
The moving wall was first faced by Series 3 Team 2, who had plenty of other mobile hurry-ups to evade on Level 1 alone: goblins, the armour-suited Behemoth and an ogre known as...
12. Grimwold (Series 3)
Before Shrek turned ogres into the stuff of stuffed toys, there was Grimwold. Like Ariadne, he had his own theme. In Series 3 Quest 3, he was seen pursuing dungeoneer Simon across five different scenes. He was finally stopped when an elf jabbed him with her blade (ouch) and called him a "tower of fat and ugliness" (ouch). He was back four quests later, turning dungeoneer Kelly into a club sandwich.
Here's Grimmy in his element. Note the trouser continuity error.
13. Assassins (Series 4-5)
When we first saw an assassin, it didn't seem like much of a threat, let alone a hurry-up: dungeoneer Alistair told it to go away and it did. A moment later, it fulfilled its potential.